Sunday, December 28, 2014


you've never been seduced
by a madwoman
you've only known
pedestrian affairs;
if you've never
been to Peter Lugar's,
MacDonalds will suffice;
if you've never read Celine
your brain will be cooled
instead of heated;
if you've never heard Bird,
your flight will be limited;
and if you've never heard Billie
you've never heard the word, "love."
These are obvious

I'm tired.
This poem
will tell
you that.
You have
so many
& then
for awhile
I hope.
I'll watch
a bad team
some bad
I'll hope
the other
carries me
a blurry
It's all
I have
to go

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014


on two hundred pages
and figure I'm a little more
than half way done.
I also know
where it's going,
though I have no idea
of how
it's going
to get
I could say,
I'm confused,
but that's not true;
is just
my normal state
that no one word
describes, it's part
of me.
I'll take that
The word gods
have been
very very
good to me;
they always
It's a Christmas gift
and New Year harbinger
of allowing me to do
what I do best:
play with myself.

I'm bloated
with words; rabbit
pregnant pushing
out poems
& paragraphs
& pages.
there is
a cost.
If you fuck
with those gods
you fuck with losing
what those gods have granted.
You believe
that there will always
be another girlfriend,
but there might not be
another poem
about her. History
has told you that.

I have no intention
of returning the gift
that fits so well
& feels so good.
Words of cashmere
and silk; words
that taste good;
words that linger
like the glow
around the bulb
after you turn-off
the light.

And I am a junkie
on that kind of run.
I've got enough
dope for tonight
& a wake-up shot
in the morning.
What else
is there
for a junkie
to know?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014


No sign
of strangulation,
no cerebral
not a gun shot
or knife wound
on him; no
broken bones,
not even a sprain;
his liver's fucked,
but I expected that
with all those burst
blood vessels in his nose;
he's too fat
to have froze,
and his dick,
though small,
is in working order.

But his face,
his face was so sad,
so serious,
I took another look.
You see his heart?
Three times
the size.
You see inside?
More than a man
should have
to hold.

A friend told me
that they told him
not to make the trip.
Told me,
that he was never
really a gift giver
to begin with.
That he was in
no kind of shape
to travel.
But few men
listen; women, too,
by the way.

I just hope
the next one,
sick with love,
believes them.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I'm not into
baby Jesus,
or mangers,
or wise men,
three kings,
four queens,
a jack of hearts or
an inside straight.
I have no reason
to pretend
except for
my usual
The woman
I'm seeing
differs; she'd like
me to go with her
& her family
tomorrow; a small
she believes.
And I believe
that Santa
took a dump
down my chimney.

I'm a selfish man.
And my previous
love affair
did nothing
to restore my faith
or expand my borders.
If anything
they shrank.
And my last poem
did not endear me
to her either.

I'd like a little
ease, but ease
has never been
easy. This time
of year is a live grenade
of lies. Silent Night
does not need
my voice.

One way
or another
I'll be up
on a cross
What is

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014


There's only one
girl for me.
And she's
too nuts
to do
or about.
And so
I'll just
have to
her away
my heart's
and take
I want
a nibble
or two.

le guerre.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Nobody's fault,
really; it's in
the mustard seed
I suspect.
We're given
our rations
before entry
& can only eat
from that plate
or tin can.
It is
a war
of sorts,
all the time,
and we act,
or not,
of course.
The rules,
if any,
are none.
To advise
or suggest
cannot be
They can
only be
by chance
& chances

Old age
has softened
me like
a fine Brie--
allowed to run
& gain
a slow
of urgency.
I would hold grudges
like a wizened Jew
with Alzheimer's,

But not now.
No longer
does it make sense
or matter.
By the time
the jury decides
& is polled
it's over.
and only then,
is it time
to shed
a little

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Plenty of beauty
and plenty of blood.
Both were given
and granted
The body
sometimes moves
without knowing
is life; such
is the task
and the terror
on a border
of disorder.
It's jazz
and jism;
it sticks
to the air;
it's in
your underwear.

I loved the beauty
and needed to be bled.
My alienist helped
cure me
by all this
I can't say
it helped; I can say
it worked.

I began last year
in the arms of a love
and will begin this year
in the arms
of another.

that and this
was only
with small pockets
of pleasure).

There is
in all this
some kind
of balance.
I know
is. But
I've seen it

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


for j. and in spite of her...

she said to me.
"Gimme a minute...
I need to get this shit
down," I answered.
"You said that
an hour ago...
it's my Sunday, too."
"A minute,
just a minute,"
I promised.
"Now, Savage,
I need some
"It's still early,
night's young."
"But not you;
your shelf life
is almost expired
and I've got an itch
that needs scratchin."
"Come over here," I parried.
take a break; this cat
needs to purr."
Black women
are different
than white:
they get up
in your face
and no "no's"
or appease.
"C'mon Daddy do
what you do."
I said
letting her
hear it.
she had
a better way
with life
than I did.
And I'm simply
not that much
of an artist
or fascist.
I shut-off
the Mac
and did
what any man
would do:

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014


For j.

married women
whose husbands
are dead
or might as well be.
Thanks for giving
ancient bohemian hearts
and well-springs
of curiosity.
Thanks for giving
chemical erections
to boost passion
and education.
Thanks for giving
instead of turkey.
Thanks for giving
trusting Indians.
And thanks for giving
a country
that tolerated
and made my life
a jumbled mess
of transgressions
and forgiveness.

is there
to mold
and to
But tonight,
tonight is for
deep reflection
and above all else

The wing
is yours.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014


to my last
I'm able
to explore
a woman's pussy
a leisurely
the wings
& the colors:
all rectangles,
squares, ovals,
how they move
& pulsate,
emitting sweetness
& smells
as they groove
to their own
& beat;
how they preen
& announce
How wonderful
each to each;
how marvelous
to notate
& record
at this age

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014


of pleasure/pain
is what interests
me. The hum
of the everyday
puts me to sleep.
I've learned
from peaceful
or good
things. I've enjoyed
at times
but shake-off
the common
for the chaotic
and ugly
every time.

Early last week
was a nightmare.
I was brutalized
by merely living
in this world.
Then came friends
from above
the border
& Carmen
at The Met;
Coney Island
& Totonno's;
sales leading
to safety
for another

All through
this Janus faced
life, I've been
with words...a hundred fucking pages,
and counting.
to send
to Cynthia
I did.
Today she called.
A Saturday.
she said,
I'll rep it
when you finish,
so finish.

I thought I'd stop
but I won't. Why fuck
with the gods

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I'd say,
to the walls.
And, I'd add,
I had a motherfucker
of a day.
I wanted
to put my fist
through every motherfucker
I met
or spoke to--especially
my prick of a boss.

At times
you need a hedge,
a sanctuary,
against the madness
your front door,
or inside
the mosquito net
of flesh
you think
protects & wards off,
but instead flaps
the broken

Not all the time,
mind you,
but right

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014


come when
they want;
they have
their own
for and against
what the struggling
heart tries to assert
in the most

you're any good,
it's like trying
to control
your bowels.
Forget it.
You need
to understand
it will come
easily or
with much
pain. Either way
you'll feel it
when it does.
Or if you don't
or never do again--
that's alright

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014


has been going
into the novel
I'm working on;
it's a different
animal; it demands
more attention
instead of
the short bursts
of libido or id
that informs
the other.

The poem is
a sweeter smelling
fart, if you will;
it's a more perfect
and keeps the howl
to a minimum;
it yelps & whimpers
& whines within
discernible borders.

The novel
is messy,
even when
your aim
is also poetry
but of a different sort--
more like a beer shit,
messy and inclined
to get you and whoever
gets close
& befouled.

At my age
it is difficult
to do both
and so, for now,
unless it insists,
I'll struggle
with the longer
& fatter shit.

One has to
make a call,
& this one
was mine.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014


They called up
Norman Savage
this morning
and told him
he'd won
The Nobel.
he replied
and went back
to sleep.

It's why
he won.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014


Apartment cleaned.
Sneakers shined.
Jacket & pant pressed.
Took a haircut.
Am even thinking
about cologne
for tonight,
& Friday--
dinner, dinner,
dinner & The Vanguard,
dinner & the blues,
--all to celebrate
being on The Savannah
for 67 years
and still hunting
and still
being hunted.

It still seems
so sudden.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014


Closing in
on 67
is most
for someone
who was dying
every third
I began
a type of mania
since eleven
and tried
to push
towards the other side
of the grass
with aplomb,
and relish.
I was bad
at living
and worse
at dying--lucky
for me.

I've lived
in a beautiful
for four decades
& tripped
around it
for a decade more;
I've ate well,
smoked some excellent
smoke, excelled at a
controlled excursion
into other forms
of consciousness and
enjoyed a living death
that only heroin offers.
I've heard musicians live
that were alchemists
of sounds; knew painters
who now hang
in places that folks pay
to get into; and have
enjoyed women of every stripe
and persuasion; I've had
gravy's gravy...sweets
that dizzy the brain;
and enjoyed the kinds of lows
that had those black twerlies
dance inside my lids,
making my gut swollen
with pain.

Even this past year,
as exquisite
and agonizing
as it was,
opened ways
it confirmed
a humanity
both stupid
yet profound
which I've tried
in my infinite
to ignore.
But to know love
& loss
& love
is something
that will burnish
the one now
who's near
and that can't
be diminished
because it can't
be lost
by accident
or squandered
by chance.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014


golden honey
as it drips
like love's blood
to where
the animals
carrying fluids
& fauna
to wild forests
& beasts.
How often
fires flame
on how much
inflammable juice
in your veins,
& the shimmy
of your soul.

I can hear
my father

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


than Jeter?
we'd ask
each other
from '95
through '02
and smile
at each other
because no athlete
had it better
through those
championship years
here in NYC.
We watched as he took two
& hit to right, run-out
every contact, steal, squeeze,
dance & pirouette at short,
turn two with the old man, Luis,
homer when he had to,
and take one
for the team
there was no other way.
Skills, looks, acclaim
& the money that only The Yankees
can lavish on a player and only
this crazy city can supply.
It gave us some fun
in an otherwise
life; the only reason
these gods
get paid
like gods.

We'd not spoken
for nearly ten years
until tonight,
his last night,
at "The Stadium,"
the summer cathedral
of myths,
and she called
& posed
the same
who has it better?

I've regretted
many things
in my life
but knowing her
was never one of them
and it was good to hear
she feels the same
about me.
It was worth the wait.

The rest of what we talked about
is really
none of your business.
Isn't it better
that way?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


are for pleasure,
she said,
the key
is for pain.
What light there is
comes between
the bars.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014


has welcomed
the souls of the lost
and found
for a hundred years.
On MacDougal
in the West Village
it looks the same
as when I chanced upon
it in the early sixties:
Italian European, small,
serving coffee, black
or brown & little pastries,
to radicals, tourists,
reds, writers, philosophers,
ex-anything, poor, rich,
confused, without question,
intrusion or concern.
You can still sneak
a smoke
every once in awhile
and they will pretend
they haven't noticed.

On this Sunday,
full of laziness,
I walked through Washington Square
and over; thankfully
it was not too busy.
I ordered espresso
& a piece of Italian cheesecake,
and took out
my Celine--
and thought of Roi
reading his Heidegger
sixty years ago.
I've got plenty
of pretensions
to last a lifetime
but that
is not
one of them.

Pretty single ladies
sat at tables,
turning the pages
of paper books;
sugar cubes
on the tables.
There was a time
I'd get invited
into their one room flats
& later into their well appointed
bodies. This time,
however, the snack
worked better
with my life
than they would; I still have time
to find their soft spots
if it ever comes
to that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014


was having a Grand Opening
directly opposite my pad.
They were trying to attract
suckers from the other banks
in the neighborhood by giving away
pens, keychains, assholes,
dixie cups of coffee, bite-size muffins,
charred pretzels and other processed nibbles.
Neighborhood putzes blinded
by their colors of stark green & white
milled about among as many managers
as were wanderers; you might think
they were discounting money, but,
of course, they weren't.
Their staff of eight dollar an hour
workers worked the street.

One other thing they were giving away:
in a city
that's one long siren
to begin with.
It began vibrating
my apartment at nine-thirty
in the morning; a blast
of reggae
coming from speakers
opposite my bedroom
and shouts
from the only people
awake enough to hear:
those working
for the bank.
At noon I went down
& walked across the street
to some men in dark-colored suits,
white shirts, striped ties,
gleaming black shoes.
I approached two of em:
you work for this entity? I asked.
Proudly, the Canadians answered, "Yes, we do."
(I knew they were Canadians because they looked polite
and fucked-up their "O's" and wore, aside from the uniform,
banking smiles).
You know who Bob Marley was? Yellowman? The Wailers?
They looked at each other. Confused. Losing their smiles.
They wanted to burn you cocksuckers down,
and they should have, I told them.

They looked toward some burly black men
they'd hired for security--not Canadian.
All their eyes
never left
my back
as I retraced
my steps
to look
for my Saturday
as well.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014


you sly old
He'd be 95
though always
going on 15.
I sound like him,
look like him and,
if the truth be known,
wanted to, and acted like,
I was him
no matter
how far
I wanted to get away
from him,
but never did.
He'll be happy
to know how strong
his genes were
while his presence
was even larger,
not to mention

People knew me
by my voice &
my looks: twins,
they said,
we could
have been.
I had the same love
of women, fast cars
& music
as he did;
loved to laugh
in those dark spaces;
manipulative, selfish,
naive and stupid. I got
his fears, too; his blind
spots and gravitated
to a love
of symbols, fools

I speak to those ninety
year olds now who fought
Hitler & Tojo
on Normandy and the Pacific.
I hear about the Philippines,
Okinawa, and Scofield barracks,
and hear once again
how he bluffed
the other gamblers
out of thousands
in 5 card poker games.
I was the only one
among my peers
who wanted to serve
but couldn't
and pretended
I was lucky.

I only remember
him fighting fat
all his life:
grapefruit diets,
booze diets,
Pritikin, Weight Watchers,
Over Eaters Anonymous,
where he told me
he did the 12 Steps
in a week and a half
and now had "sponsees;"
The Duke fat farm
who threw him out
for smuggling ice cream
through open windows
at night,
or tearing I.V.'s
from his arm because
his store needed to be opened
the next morning
for a family who,
he thought,
needed him
more than what
was good
for them.

I stand here now
wearing my ol' man's watch,
much too big
for my wrist, waiting
to die.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014


is down
in Clearwater.
I've not heard
from her
in a few weeks
and was worried.
she surfaced.
She was busy
as anyone would be
starting what they think,
and might be,
a new life:
getting her kid
in school,
and fixing up
a crib
so they can
have a home
for the first time
in years.
She knows
that soon
the rains will come,
even a hurricane
or two
or three
to fuck-up our best
plans, even dreams
we've had
from the time
we were old
enough to know
what dreams

But beginnings,
no matter how exciting
always levels
out; we can't outrun
our own foxes.
But so the fuck what?
As long as we keep
ourselves in the game
we have a chance
maybe not much
of a chance
but we can't ask
for more.

I take some comfort
in knowing
I've done my part
in getting her out
and up; I gave her
a cigarette
when she really
needed one.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014


in AC
was damp,
a slate-gray sky
and bluish black waves
with a cockscomb of white foam
leaving the sand with a froth.
We sat,
as we had
forty years ago
when everything
was in front
of us.
The failures & madness
and a suicide world
filled with regrets
sat behind us
& greedy still.
It felt good
to shiver
with all those lives
in the

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014


The Betty Poems

the oldest
& most effective
anti-psychotic agent
for shiczophrenia,
bi-polar disease,
might help;
where they literally
take out the brain
& wash it,
might help;
I doubt it,
but it might.
But I hope
you never get it;
I hope you get
yours...and you will.
is just too insidious
a disease for that not
to happen--eyes, kidneys,
brain are subject
to complications. But that's
too easy: bone cancer, maybe,
hemorrhoids would be poetic;
that let's you know
it's there & you're there.
I've loved you too much
not to hate you a little now--
more than a little.
Even though you'd warned me:
that picture of you detoxing
should have been enough
to scare me off; your maniacal paranoia
in finding instances of all the women
I've fucked should have suggested a
fevered and unsettled mind at work; your drinking,
hiding under the covers, lack of friends,
your divorce from an ex who was always an ex
and getting a look at his emails,
should have done it--
but nothing did. I'm nuts, too. Too far gone
with what I thought was love and maybe
it was. When somebody tells you
that they don't deserve you
they're usually telling the truth.
But I sure tried to dispel & dissuade
your feelings of being a piece of shit,
got you up and out of bed and out your house
and working again... but
you are a piece of shit (I've never said that
so directly to anyone before). You're just
a bundle of misery, darkness, and so every time a kind of love
comes your way you have to regurgitate it--it's your hedge
against more hurt, more love, more disappointment--
just like the food you once deposited in bathroom stalls.

Canadian you are, bourgeois you are--
working in banks, writing speeches & dumb little articles
so that the rich get fatter and you can hire
dog walkers and think, while hating them
you're not them, but you are. Try to enjoy
it, my dear.
It's all
you have.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I don't remember the class,
nor the subject,
nor the teacher,
but I do remember the boredom.
I remember reading something...
a short story,
a poem,
a novel,
but I do remember the line:
"we are what we're least afraid to be."
It stopped me.
It resonated.
I read it a few times
and obviously
committed it to memory.
I was not a good student.
Easily bored,
distracted, ashamed
of my awkwardness
and inability to fit
I had a brashness
a bravado
to try and balance
the scales,
but I knew
deep down
just what a jerk-off
I was.
I knew I could not make it
in the straight world,
normality was not "my thing"
and so cultivated any
and everything that took me
outside it: gambling,
unprotected sex, brown paper bag
drinking, reefer, and finally
dope. I was a "traditionalist."
Drinking without ice, without
chasers; women with no particular
discernment; dope that needed
to be shot.
I managed to survive:
good women, mostly.
And somehow
I grew-up
and realized
just how true
that high school line
was and is.
There are those
hiding under a guise
of isolation,
more afraid to be loved
and less afraid to be rancid;
those who wonder
what those outside lines
mean and what it is
to cross them;
I am more afraid to live
and less afraid to write
about living; and those
who live with quiet urgency
and keep their desires
loud inside them.

I still have needs
that need to be met;
I need to be told
that surgeons
do not need scalpels
to make you well
and whole
I am not abstract;
I am a straight line
that grew-up
crookedly; I've made
with a will,
not my own,
better, something
that loves me.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


that a nine year old girl
from New Jersey
would be on a firing range
in Nevada,
outside of Las Vegas,
firing an Uzi
with the burly instructor--
who stood next to her
slim shoulder
with his arm
wrapped around
her tiny waist
--and still manage
to shoot him
in the head?

The name
of the range,
Bullets & Burgers,
is family friendly
you're the family
of the shooter,
or the family
of the dead,
or the little nine year old
who saw the blood & brains
of her instructor on her little pink shirt,
or the eyes & brain of her instructor
in the second when he realized he
was no more.

If you own
Bullets & Burgers
you're in good shape:
more business
for a hot table.

I've heard
the bookmakers
have taken this
off the board
for tomorrow's
a pity--I thought
I had an angle
on this one.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


wood, coal,
flesh to flesh
heating sparks
smoke upward,
lathering up
bodies pumping
against each
other's proximity
rubbing inside
furnaces shoveled
by thick-armed
& ravens & broken wings.
Without contact
frozen, left to freeze
in bone's zero.

There must
be "musts."
There must
be love's oil
to lub
the workings.
Without that
there is the nothing
there was
& the nothing
that is
and the nothing
that awaits
all who yawn
& lift their sorry spirits
to the nothing
up above.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014


We'll hit
Marcus Garvey Park
on Saturday,
& Tompkins Square
the day after,
to listen to Bird
& some of those
who came out of him.
We'll have a good time,
I'm sure,
though it will be
a little sad--
she's found a new home
(but will have to take
her old life with her),
to Clearwater,
where she'll try
to make
some kind nest
for her & her son.
I bought her a box
of reinforcements,
those little white cylinders,
to lick into place
in her new loose-leaf book.

We'll pretend
that we were something more
to each other
than we were--
solving some complex problems
and needs
of expediency & circumstance,
& listening to each other's voice
in the wilderness.

We'll promise
to keep in touch
but won't.
Some things,
no matter how important
they were
at the time
were only important
for that time; the oceans
know this; the leaves
know this
as it rolls
in & out &
changes color &
we know this
too, despite
the illusion. Humans,
if human,
are nature's hybrids.

We helped each other
out for a few months,
didn't hurt each other,
had a few laughs.
Nothing wrong
with that.

Just listen
to that solo.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014


There was Seymour
and now Robin. Before
those two gents
there was David,
Ernie, Sylvia, Anne,
John & John and,
I'm sure other
John's; & please
don't forget Vinny,
Dino, Marilyn, Amy,
and many lost fools,
like myself, who couldn't
find their way home
with a map.

It has always been
a hard life; work,
love, bread, adulation,
has little to do
with it; it's just
fucking hard.
You can turn over
the rocks & discover
a new enzyme, a new hormone,
a new molecule, insanities
lurking around the corners
of your birth, teachers
with bad breath & dandruff,
mustard sandwiches & Draino chasers,
and would be no closer in discerning
the link and linkages
of how you view yourself
or the world.

if you're not knotting
a rope or loading a shotgun,
if you're not shivering
in your closet more afraid
of the light than the dark;
if there's a pop tart
or a pancake or a cup
of black coffee for
tomorrow morning or
a slice of almost green bologna
for tonight's fare...
that is enough, it is enough
to turn on your radio
& blast yourself away
& into a space
that gives you space
and that will be
good enough--it has
to be.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I learned how to speak,
without stuttering,
when I wrote.
My insides
were so jumbled,
so chaotic,
so poisoned,
so fearful,
that even when I knew
answers I'd never
raise my hand
in school
or offer them
to those around me.
I kept to myself
thinking that as long
as I didn't have to talk,
I was safe.

Writing became my currency,
my art, my ability
to control
without appearing foolish.
It allowed me to try
and identify
what I was feeling
without choking for air,
getting red in the cheeks,
wanting to die.
I practiced and practiced
and practiced putting it down,
getting it out, studying it,
trying to get the words
to stop wriggling
in order to know
who I was
at any given moment.

Without planning
I aimed at writing
those words as if
I spoke them; having
a naturalness
that belied
the alien
I was.
The more I practiced
the better I got
until the page
& my mouth
were one.
My pen became
my dick, my words
as hard as an adolescent's
erection. I managed
to build a life
around an artifice.

That artifice
is deconstructing:
first the body
then the mind.
Janis was right:
get it while you can.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Mirrors were not kind
to me: distortion
stalked my senses:
too fat,
too small,
too ugly.
But then
the obverse:
too handsome,
too smart,
too quick.
mocked my every step,
every twist,
every turn. And there
were many of each.

I had no real affinity
for anything
having to do
with life or
making a living:
being one
or many, a cog
in the nightmare.
"Work" and me
were not friends.
I did not get on well
with others.
I was fluid, though,
at fantasy.

It was remarkable,
in this Charles Laughton of a life,
when my arrogance
and defenses were
kept at bay,
that so many women
loved me.
They deceived me
in wanting
to stay alive
a little longer:
so many whispers,
so many promises,
so many confidences
that turned ugly pain
and self-abnegation
into words
into an art
of deformity
that soothed
and glued the divided
self from self.

This last one,
though, loved
me in a different way:
deformed as well,
but as a lioness.
Female. A deeper
distortion. Without
an outlet. Imprisoned
by her body,
in her body,
she escaped only
by implosion.
She has a bottomless
distrust of humans.
And still
has to go
into the jungles
of civilization
& stalk the food
& cook it
& feed the children
who wait for her
while being
the same creature
who possesses
no valance
no firm
in this brick
& mortar life.

I am glad
I am older
then her, nearer
the grave.
I will not have
to think of her
nearly as long
as she will think
of me.

like this poem,
is often times
not beautiful.
Our spirits
nearly extinguished
the forms.
And the music
we made--even
the notes
that were
--leading up
to this poem
were beautiful.
I've never heard them
sung this way before.
I would believe
they're sung once
by the gods
and then
are gone.

I have nothing,
my dear,
& I want to share it
all with you.
If someone makes you
a better offer--
take it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014


"Que encuentres un cono a tu medida!"

Had a buddy, Harry,
who put that curse
in the mouth of Fernando,
one of his characters.
Harry came from the red clay earth
of rickets country, south Georgia,
grew up poor and learned to write
reading the Sears catalogue because
that's all he got of printed material
at his shack & allowed him
to make up stories
of escapes & other lives.
I grew-up in Coney Island, rich
compared to most middle-class folks
and learned to write because
I had to
or go crazy
in my silence.
He was living in Gainesville
and me in the Village
when we ran across each other
in a saloon across the street
from me, The Cedar Tavern.
At the time it didn't matter to us:
either the spike or the shot glass
made about as much sense
as anything else & we shared those
and our histories
in equal measure.
When the subject came to women,
I listened closely.
We each had more than our share,
but he seemed to have paid some heavy
love dues over a few of them.
I shook my head
pretending I knew
what he was talking about
& feeling, but I was really
just trying to keep up.
He was the better artist
and the better man
and I knew it.
One particular woman
had him upsidedown in love
and wouldn't quit
his system
no matter how many others he'd fucked,
no matter how much dope he shot,
no matter how many drunk tanks
he woke up in & no matter how
much notoriety he garnered.
I listened,
shook my head,
and knew
I'd never let it
get that bad.

Harry is dead.
And I've come close
a few times before
and since.
I know now
how he felt:
I cannot get
this certain woman
out of my pores.
Haven't seen
or really spoken to
or written her
in six months
& it feels
like six minutes.
Her breath, her body,
her movements, her insanities,
her sound, her inanities
& insecurities &
her beauty are branded
into me like a birthmark.
My pleasures
with others
are fleeting
& boring; my time
spent alone
is spent
to a spirit--
a hollow echo
from church steeples
gone mad,
overthrown by a renegade Christ
& his disciples.
Admittedly, the sin
I committed was a love sin;
too much even I admit,
but love it was.
If you don't believe me
read the poems,
listen to the songs,
count the jelly beans,
the Swedish fish,
measure the ineffable,
read the emails,
eavesdrop on the conversations,
hear how she said my name,
watch her squirt her joy,
experience her laugh,
her wonderment,
her little girl
vulnerabilities & understand
her fears
and still
you'd be dumbfounded,

How you couldn't matter
ultimately didn't matter.
All you know
at the end
is absence.

I've stripped layer after layer
of flabby ego off me
& will carve some more
before I'm done.
Maybe the next one--
if there is a next one
--will allow
the danger inside.
Who knows
about that?
What I do know
is that I'm
as human as Harry now:
I'm paid up
& will,
if asked,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014


walks with a pretty
yellow Labrador.
The street sizzles
in the July heat.
Late seventies,
I make him out to be,
but neither he
nor the Lab
are fazed by the weather.
He's tall, rather handsome,
thin, wearing a white T,
cargo shorts & sandals;
the Lab wears a jacket:
"Please don't pet me,
I'm working." Her nose
sniffs the ground, her eyes
works the crowd and traffic.
I'm pretty sure
he's not Homer,
or Charles,
or Wonder,
or Milton,
but he might be.
But the kids who jostle past,
or look up just in time
to avoid him do not imagine
anything. The stare into some screen,
screens that tell them where they are
and who they are. For all they know
they might be studying one of his books
or compositions or paintings or theories
in class. He might be able to tell them
the history of their steps and who
they're stepping on.

But they need not stop.
They, too, are only trying
to find a little love,
a little knowledge,
in their time. One
never knows when either one
is going to leap up
and grab them around the throat.
What part imagination
and what part technology
plays in that strange brew
is something for Tiresias
to sort out.
As for me
I'll neither follow
the blind man
or the students--
I've got enough
blind spots
of my own.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I take myself out
for a bite to eat
to the same Greek dive
I've been goin to for 35 years
now. Hell,
been livin in my pad for over 40--
but who's counting?
Nick & Paul,
the owners,
have seen me
in many different states
through many decades:
sober, drunk, young, wild,
old, wild, high, low,
indifferent, maniacal, calm,
pensive and apoplectic.
I've sat isolated
and speechless
or boisterous and boorish.
I've littered their booths
with the scents of women
and love and the smell of
defeats; defeats from jobs,
publishers, women, friends,
and body. What I do,
and who I'm with,
no longer raise their eyebrows
or lowers their lids.
I've eaten their eggs & ham,
bacon & sausages & pancakes,
homemade moussaka, bread pudding,
& brisket, drank their coffee
& stirred their little creamers
& watched their children age
& them grow old.
I've seen favorite waiters & waitresses
farmed out to pasture because their legs
cannot get rid of the water & have ballooned
as big as their waist. The only person
who didn't age
is me.
Neurotics don't age
but hold fast
& hold on.

I had a hamburger, fries, salad.
It was the same bottle of oil,
the same vinegar, the same tomato
& the same slice of onion; the burger
was thinner, the bun bigger; the fries
still frozen & pretty much
as tasteless as ever,
but the price has tripled.
And why not?:
the farms are dry,
crops roasted,
cows suicidal,
the beef chemical.
The half-buck & buck tip
is now two or three.
Nick & Paul tell me
they'll soon retire;
they're tired of working
for the landlord.
But not me. I can't
retire--I'm a poet.
And poets are not supposed to "work,"
they only have to "live"--
which is the harder,
and more complicated,
of the two
I think I know,
but will never ever

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I like her scar
underneath her chin
from a bicycle mishap
when she turned seven
& her first blind corner.
I like how her ankle
curves into her shoe
when she wears heels
and the way she announces
her shapely calves to the
& women who follow
her. I like
how she questions
what she already knows
& expects to be disproved
or challenged.
I detest her poise
but take comfort
in her insecurity.

So far,
we're letting it
unfold like a good mystery
should--a real page turner
we're taking our time with
& savoring. Soon,
I'm sure, we will get up
on the cross
of ambivalence.

Until then
I'll pretend
& so will she--
like this morning:
freshly showered
she stepped from
the steam wrapped
in a towel,
smelling soapy,
hair dripping,
& tip-toed past me
into the bedroom;
we caught each other
from the corners
of our eyes
I'm sure,
small grins
played across
our lips
but kept
our mouths

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014


The Terminal Hotel stays busy:
overnight stays, hour stays,
fifteen minute stays,
a week at a time,
a month,
or years.
Always booked.
All the time,
everyday, every minute,
every hour on the hour some
come in, others
go out.
It's the first stop
or the last.
Some arrive
or depart
with fanfare: trumpets
& flags & heads
of state or captains
of industry
and are lingered over,
gossiped, groped
or drooled on,
but most
barely make a ripple
they wash
over your shores
and create
a tidal wave
that carries you
or carries you over
any and all coastlines:
& the like.
They are our sea-gods,
our Neptune's
sometimes and sometimes not
devouring their own children.
The stone deepens,
widens, asserts itself,
intertwines with the fibers
of god, and with them,
turns love into grief,
grief into longing,
longing into pain,
and all to reminiscence
which overwhelms
& hardens
& becomes
a stew of regret.

Each day
one goes through it:
Some react quietly
others not so. Some
feel undeserving
of succor & seek
none; others yammer
for days on end
& find a kind of relief.
What balances one,
tilts the other.
And sometimes "love"
is too selfish
to share.

Births are supposed
to make us happy
while death is supposed
to make us sad. So easy
to think
like that.
I know that as I write this
there are those caught
in a place between words
and have not a hand
to hold.
I can manage
another's life
very well--
it's mine
I have a problem with.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014


We're in pain;
we're desperate.
We've all done it
if I get away,
if I change it,
change something--
it's gonna lift,
the pain will ebb,
the desperation
will flame
out & only the sick
damp smell of
an extinguished fire
and that, too,
will go away if
we just get out
get away
from the place we're at
it's gonna change
the place we're in.

I've done it
a million times
& seen it done
a million more.
I've gone from scotch
to vodka to gin to cognac
to anisette to wine to beer;
I've switched from dope
to coke to reefer to pills
& back again; I've backed-up
the woman I was with
to a woman waiting; I've gone
from New York to New Orleans
to San Francisco to Los Angeles
to upstate downstate in state out of state
to nuthouse in house jail house to ping-pong
to amnesia & nothing helps. Nothing.
Especially with love.
Don't be fooled:
love is a substance
harder to kick
than any substance I know.
It messes with the cool runnings
of the system, fucks
with your heartbeat
because it is your heartbeat.
I can take any addict,
any booze hound
& get them off the shit
in a matter of days. Easy.
But love, uh ugh. No.
Not real love.
You could be fucking someone else
tomorrow & it don't matter.
Real love loves
the imperfections
as well as the hook:
it's a molecular thing:
the scent, the smell, the taste;
the small dick & stubby fingers,
floppy tits, protruding belly,
insane pretentions, narcissism,
perfectionism, isms up the ass--
you still love them.

But try it.
By all means try it.
Try any goddamn thing.
I'll go to Kentucky
& become a redneck,
chew tobacco, shoot guns,
pray to a Confederate god;
or go to Australia & fuck
a Kangaroo. Around the world
& in the world.
Your mind,
if you have one,
does what it does,
perceives what it will,
connects what it connects
pretty much
without your help.
It's not even a matter
of standing your ground
& fighting. No.
You need not do anything.
Staying alive
is enough.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I'm getting picked-up
in an hour
& being taken
to her home
on the island.
I've bought
an old man's bathing suit,
and I'll put my old man's body
inside and trudge through
the hot sand, oiled up,
uncomfortable, a bit lost,
a bit disorientated, on scarred legs,
thinning arms, balding head,
to sit in an unforgiving sun & play
a young man's game--
seducing & allowing
her to seduce.
It's like watching
that old kid's show:
Let's Pretend.
And thank the gods
the poet still does.

It's been easy with her
so far.
No inkling
of the whirlwind
of the last one.
She takes what is
& doesn't bother
with what isn't--
so far.
I'm still
but that, too,
will pass--
if what I see
& what I don't see

That's the best
I can do--
right now.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Men feel it before,
and more acutely,
then women,
I think.
Athletes male
or female,
feel it first, followed
by artists
& skilled
laborers (though
I'm not sure
about the artists
& skilled laborers part).
It happens
before you're aware
of it happening:
you know what you want to do,
you can see it,
but you just can't do it,
you see an opening
but can't take it;
you see a punch coming
but can't duck it
or slip it.
There's a kind of rust
on your reflex; your body
is a beat behind
the rhythm section.

The first time (or two,
or three) it happens
you'll reject it; you'll resort
to bullshitting yourself
& believe it,
(but not really),
you'll say:
just one of those days,
stop fucking around,
get more rest,
go on a diet,
get into the weight room,
shut-off distractions--
friends, family, hangers-on,
--stop chasing
skirts, concentrate--
& that might work...
for a bit.
But where once your youth was
has now looked
& found
greener pastures.

I'm well passed
my prime; I make
what I make
by skill & wits,
a reluctant intelligence,
a stubborn neurosis,
& guts, all enfolding me,
embalming me into
a state of grace.
Like today:
I saw these young beauties
walk by. I knew what I wanted
to do
to each
& every
one of them,
but cannot do a thing. How unfortunate
for all of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014


I love you,
you love me;
I do for you,
you do for me;
I hate you,
you hate me;
I make-up with you,
you make-up with me;
I kiss you
where it hurts,
you do the same
for me;
what's mine
is yours,
what's yours
is mine
You will shut-off
my oxygen
when it becomes
too painful
to breathe
without it;
or it's too painful
for you to breathe
being near me.
What's fair
is only

Please sign
here, here,
& here,
& date it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I have left you
one cigarette
in its obviousness.
You pretend
not to smoke
when I'm not there.
However, the hole
will suck you
into it
We both know
you could not help
making this mistake--
it is what
you've been built for:
Many have been made
for that. Even myself.

You'll reach
for me
& find
a cigarette:
tubular pleasure
By simple reason
you'll not need
to smoke it
but you will:
reason, you see,
my dear,
like love,
is irrational
and most difficult
to reason

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014


"Ladies & Gentlemen,
will you please rise
while we celebrate
our nation's colors.
Singing our National Anthem
are Charlie Patton, Sun House,
Johnson, Sonny Boy
Williamson, John Lee
Hooker & Elmore
James--all in, showered,
& cleaned-up from a hot day
in the fields, and members
of the Parchment Farm
Boys Choir; givem
a nice warm round
of applause.

(Those wanting to go
to the bathroom,
would be a good time
to do so...
And remember:
while encouraged,
is optional)."


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I miss
my toes &
my teeth--
the top ones;
I miss
the boardwalk
in Coney Island,
& spongy
to the young beat
of canvas sneakers;
I miss
the fireworks
on Tuesday
& the cherry,
or lemon ices
in thin paper
onto my tongue
& face
& hands;
I miss
my first
furtive kiss
on the sand
the dark wood,
& the first feel
of tit
& taboo
to young fingers;
I miss my father
letting go
of the bicycle seat
of my new Schwinn
I miss his arms
allowing me
to swim & swim
away; I miss
the first time
I punched him
& meant to hurt him;
I miss the first taste
of warm gin
& the first shot
of dope
no matter
how sick
I got; I miss sharkskin
pants & double features
& Nathan franks
for 25 cents
& riots
in the bars
of Brooklyn;
I miss the first sweets
from the breasts
of factories; I miss
the firsts of loves
& hates & spirals
& downward & in
& out &...

but most of all
I miss the absence
of memory.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


You have
my heart;
I need it
be stingy.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014


For DG

as a good Catholic girl
gone bad.
All that genuflecting,
all those wafers,
wine, whispered confessions
in dark wood confines,
aged from guilt,
candles & sin & Hail
Mary's cannot predict
what's happening
under the hood.

She grew-up
in a Father Knows Best home:
Robert Young wasn't as nice:
patched-elbow cardigans
and a pipe-pinched mouth
didn't say a word;
a Jane Wyman mother
saw faces
in her apple pies
& named them after
One day
all those Christ'
came off the cross
& hitched south.

I saw her
when I was charging merchandise
in Bloomingdales on stolen
credit cards and returning them
for cash to feed a junk habit.
She modeled and worked
behind the glove counter.
I had no choice
but to buy gloves,
many gloves.
If I were straight
a woman who looked like her
would have unnerved me; it
would be impossible for me
to approach.
But junk is the blood
of cowards. And every cell
that was still alive
moved me forward
despite the fear.

Her eyes were mahogany
but flecked with green
and lit with danger.
She was reading Mark Stranded,
John Ash and all those NY
concrete intellectuals; I read her
Roi & Paul & Hank & Savage
& put a smile on her face,
rhythm in her step & we
laughed & loved & fought
& loved some more & it was 1971
& we were in the thick of it.

And we did that off & on
for the next decade
& then split.
Our contact was few
& far between
until the other day.
She had sold off
The Father Knows Best house
& was living in a small town
outside of Atlantic City,
but came into town to see me.
We hit the old spots--
a little Italian joint, Emilio's,
and then Serendipity for dessert.
Nothing is lost
to memory.
Two old shoes
fitting easily
inside them:
a frigid winter night
in detox, her birthday,
she came onto the ward
in a fur coat
wearing nothing
under that
& we held the bathroom door
shut while we made it;
the Bukowski reading
at St. Marks while she took
me on the balcony & performed
her own verse.
she asked,
"how I rouged my nipples?"
"Yes, I remember."
"They're not pretty anymore,
my tits; now you need a compass
to find them. Old balloons
at the end of a New Year Eve party;
you don't notice them anymore; you
just swat your hand at them
to get them out of the way."
"My dear, my dear,
my body is shot too--
fucking is like trying to shoot pool
with a rope."
"You could always make me laugh, Savage."
Her hands were more beautiful than ever:
her veins, blue and magnificent,
threatened to come out of her skin.
"I knew you'd age with the grace
of a Georgia O'Keefe, Jean Moreau."

We brought each other
up to speed and walked.
The hotel I had lived in then
is gone, as is Rumplemeyers,
most of The Plaza and checker cabs.
But we're no different. No older,
no younger. And not wiser.
We've made it
despite the odds.
We'll do it again
soon, we said.
We weren't stupid enough
to set a date.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014


They say that life after forty
is "maintenance," but that's
bullshit. The real test
comes at sixty & beyond.
Once you hit
that number
you've entered:
The Departure Lounge.
Now some,
very few,
are able to fly
First Class, but most
of us sorry bastards
are in Couch. And some
poor fucks
are put in the belly
of the aircraft with
the animals and luggage--
nobody gives much of a fuck
if they make it or not.

Our shit
just breaks-down,
or gets rusty
from use or disease
or recklessness or
trumas, accidents,
love affairs and/or
the carelessness
of others.
And instead
of one thing
going wrong,
it's many.
The body just pops
with betrayals
large & small;
it's a shit storm,
an avalanche
of happenstance.

That's where
I'm at
one eye
needs surgery;
my uppers cracked;
my winter's cold
seems to have moved in
for the summer;
my legs lumber
with neuropathy
& nicotine;
& my heart has
too much courage
for my brain's wattage.

I'd like to take myself
in for a major tune-up.
Put myself
on the lift,
and let an old German
or Italian who knows
his way around an engine,
an engine geared for speeds
starting at sixty--Porches,
Ferrari's--get under my hood.
Change the oil,
adjust the clutch,
time the carbs,
time the cylinders,
blow the dirt out
of the engine &,
if necessary,
change the shoes.
I'd lay on that lift
for a week--
why the fuck not?
--and be ready to race again
instead of nickel and dimming
my way to death.

"We will now board
First Class passengers
& the handicapped."
Some kind of justice
seems to be
at work.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


come to you
is something I do
more and more
these days.
I've put in
the work.
The poem seems
to assert itself
without self-
or too much
I've become
an old fuck
that a few
young women
want to fuck
around with.
They're beautiful
& smart & do not
take me
too seriously
though they enjoy
my stories, my rants,
and my cynicism
which make them laugh.
I am the bone
of a Brontosaurus
they toss around.
They don't mind
my half
a hard-on
half the time,
& a slowness
of foot.
They've accompanied me
to doctors & have made me
dinner. It is more
than enough.
The few I'm still close with
understand that parents
& teachers, religious leaders
& politicians do nothing
except destroy; that pain
is endless
& love hides
in all the obvious places
if one is willing to read
the cards.

It's taken me
quite awhile
to learn
the simplest
of things:
money is piss
and the sparrow
is more important
for our most frightened
and fucked-over;
and getting across freeways
blindfolded without a scratch
is more than just
dumb luck.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014


A saxophone carves
out space for lips,
eyes, and a curling
ease of make-believe;
monkeys take care
while grooming themselves
& those they love;
a train whistle
signals lost loves
& strangers in their midst.

has more patience
than a cat
and waits
in shadows
& sunlight.

There are no
"last calls."

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The Gods gave me
a chronic illness
when eleven, before
I knew what a chronic illness
was. It scared the shit
outta me,
but fifty-six years later
I know
they also provided me
an ability to fuck with it,
and around it.
They gave me
a good ear,
a good eye,
& a mind
as jumbled
as the New York underground
to make sense
of the senseless.
They never gave me
patience, rationality,
stability; or the make-up
to work continuously
at one thing. It figures
I've little money,
little savings,
few coins of commerce,
except hope's pyrite:
getting discovered
by those who are able
to do something about it.
They've bestowed,
so far,
an unlimited supply
of words
and women
at the right time,
in the right place,
who treated me better
than I deserved.
than I deserved.
As if "deserve"
has anything
to do
with any
of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Sitting in my dentist's office
for new choppers I have time
to kill; I'm excellent
at that after all
the practice I've had.
Though now,
I must say,
"time" is paying
me back. Unfortunately,
for him,
there's less and less
of me to kill.
the sonofabith
still finds
more of me
to work with.

I've brought a book,
but my concentration
is not there
for that.
The dentist
& dentist offices
freak me out--too much
real pain
too much

I look out
the square pane
of glass
on the 16th floor
overlooking what
used to be
the garment district
in New York City.
I can see ten
water towers on top
of fifty buildings,
a shadow of a big sign
for Max the Furrier,
no better quality,
no better price, the red bricks
smeared with black city grime
supporting massive air-conditioning units
cooling bleached blondes
dancing on the poles below.
The sidewalk gum
that sticks to my shoe's soul
tells me more
than all the coral reefs
and rain forests.
The Aborigines
and Yanomami
would interest me
if I were Levi-Straus,
but I'm not.
I've watched Jewish
& Italian families
break bread
on Sundays
& knew
the quiet hatred
hardening between
the slices.
It told me more
than The Grand Canyon
& polar icecaps
& a million books
on psychology,
& making yourself

I was lucky
to find a decent
dentist who takes
Medicaid after my denture
Hell, I wore the damn thing
for fifteen years. I'm like that
with most of my stuff. My underwear
has to turn into spores
before I let it blow away.
My fellow patients
are all on the dole
as well.
We're all comfortable
with the game: I'll take
as much as I can; my dentist
will bill for as much as he can;
his landlord will get as much as he can.
What else can you possibly learn
from nature?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014


For Fe

The best of us
are mutts--
a littleathis,
a littleathat
--mercifully fucking
each other
past any
we grow up thinking
about belonging
to one tribe
or another,
but the real juice,
the real jazz,
is belonging
to all of it.

are more beautiful,
and smarter
in & out
of the classroom
than those souls
who've been ironed
& starched.
Bleached out
of the little blood
they had
to begin with.

Dogs, of course,
are not human--
(thank the gods)
--they're better.
not as wise
as cats,
but not
as judgmental either.
All they know
is fidelity
& how
to listen
to their senses.

One must learn
from them. They
should train
in how to love.
For instance:
those who love you
never leave;
they've only gotten
to where you're going
& are simply waiting
for you
to catch-up

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014


& lovely,
but rhythmic,
&, O,

Not many
nor men,
are like
the Lord.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Fats Waller, Pops,
guitars, Dylan, Dave
Van Ronk, Washington Square,
the Village, reefer madness,
and young kids still
curious, still a beautiful
inversion of what
is to come.

The thirst
for passion

To submit
is to die
& lose
the best parts
of yourself.
Those who do
to hell.
Those who don't,
welcome--you don't
have to knock, just
come in.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I just have
fucking fun.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014


We like
to think
of course.
But whores
we are, all
of us.
We all have
puny little needs
and take advantage
or gain the upper hand
of those we can.
We can put
convenient rational-
to rest.

Doing it
for half a million
is worse
than doing it
for a half loaf of bread.
We all hike
our skirts
for someone,
for something.

Let's rejoice.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014


All of us are born mad, some of us remain so.

Many people
throughout my life,
including my parents,
teachers, casual friends,
bosses, lovers and other instruments
of control, have said to me,
in these words,
or similar ones:
"Grow the fuck up."
"When are you going to stop
being such a goddamn child
& grow-up, do something
with your life, make something
of yourself; when are you going
to matter?"
I never knew
how to answer them.

The process
of socialization
is supposed
to make that happen;
to exchange,
in effect,
the metonymic
for the metaphoric.
It never happened
with me.
which ideas
spring from,
are still, for me,
contiguous. "Shit"
comes out of "sirloin,"
"reds" live next to "goblins,"
"love" can very well be
a "crucifixion."

No, no,
you must work,
you must save,
you must listen,
you must be disciplined,
you must be nice
to others & pray
& marry & have children
& work & work & work
& put your shoulder
to the wheel

which I have,
but in a odd
way. Awry, askance,
coming at myself
from a backward
angle, words
have been my most constant
friend and lover
and the few friends
I still have
are still at it,
too--whatever "it" is
and whatever that means.

It's easy enough
to stamp your feet
when you're two,
and not move,
and shake your head, "no,"
"fuck-off," "get lost,"
"sorry, ain't interested."
Not that much harder
when you're twenty,
even thirty.
But past that
it gets
just a bit
the mortality rate
exponentially higher.
Few do it well
because few do it
at all.

The "house"
is society.
Like Vegas
they never
lose. They
have patience.
if you stay
at the tables
long enough
they're going
to own you.
Except now.
for me.
At nearly
67, chipped away
at, clipped, tired
as a motherfucker
I'm still swinging it.

I'm playing with
the house's

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014


There will be
a rocking chair
that will have
my ass in it
before too long.
I'll leave
the juniper berries
for blackberry's
& strawberry's & eat
a fat white peach
its juices squirting,
dribbling down my chin
& onto a white sea-isle cotton shirt,
a salt breeze
teasing my body
even as it
soothes it.

This, of course,
if I get famous
or lucky.

Most probably
a bored & dimwitted nurse
will wheel me out
and place me
underneath a leaf
to get some shade
and some air
under a watchful
& sin-soaked sky
near dementia
& death.
My denture will loosen
& saliva will dribble down
my chin & onto
my hospital gown,
& the crack
of my ass
will moon
some young kids
on their way
to school or home
or mischief.

"That fuckin guy
makes me fuckin sick,"
one of them will say.
The other will be
quiet. He sees
his own future & that

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I've been watching people
all my life. Perhaps
I'm trying to detect
what I don't have; some secret
that I've never been privy to?
Now I know
there's no secret. Only
getting through it
as best you can
with what you got.
I watch couples now
with greater interest.
Especially the ones
holding hands:
Young couples, old couples,
in-between couples, men
and women, women and women,
men and men and can tell
whether they walk fast
or slow, skip to different
beats&rhythms, shuffle or
have to push the other, if
there is a peace between them...
and even though I know
that their peace is temporary
there is sometimes hours,
even days of it.

I couldn't be kind
to myself
and couldn't be kind
to others; I've had more
than my fair share
of women, but I was a man
who could punch holes
in heaven. And did.
It couldn't last
because I couldn't last
without tearing apart
their love
which I didn't deserve
and couldn't allow
or accept.
I know.

There are centuries
of suffering in each
second-hand movement
of a clock; the neon
in Times Square or Vegas
contains all the isolation
we need to know. We are all
so tired
from love
or no love. Our own caregivers
and governments have strafed us
to the bone. And so,
two people
holding hands
is a beacon
in the blindness,
a hedge
to look at
and envy
and inquire: how
did you do it?
They won't know
or won't tell.
That kind of peace
must be found
on your own.

I'll always have
my share
of drama
in my life--
that's how I'm built, but
I don't need to chase it,
and won't.
Let those
who thrill to it
or need it
as nourishment
have it.
I'll take
those tender mercies
that we can do
for one another
but usually don't.

There are no rules
and no prohibitions.
There are no saints
and very few teachers.
But for those teachers
who like to teach, teach
The Mask of Demetrius.
It starred Peter Lorie
and Sidney Greenstreet.
It had this refrain
that carried through the film:
"There's not enough kindness in the world."
That is something
worth writing a hundred times
on the blackboard, especially
by the students who you believe
are the good ones.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


They're proud,
they're pointy,
they're poised;
they bounce, they bump,
they undulate
like the air
on hot Georgia asphalt
on a long stretch of highway
in the dog days of August.
They flirt & tease,
they conjure
the boyhood spirits
of men.
They're in spandex,
latex, unisexed,
harnessed, haltered,
or loose
defying the whims
of gravity
& air pockets.

Some tits,
you couldn't find
with a compass,
while others
are a dairy factory.
All though
are lovely.
Lovely with the promise
of warm sweet syrup
spreading warmth
inside your belly.
to allow you
to close your eyes
and drift,
just drift.

And to think:
it's only June.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014


The Betty Poems

I've decided
to think about you
only if
and when
you're in front of me;
to love you
only when
there's something
to love.
I wish to hurt
no one--
not a bug
not you
not me
--but sometimes
there's evidence
that has been gathered
not easily dismissed.

Yes, I admit
it takes
the guts
of passion,
but it allows me
to live
within these four
Give a man
and he
can do

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014


like driving
a motorcycle
without kick-starting it;
or tooling around
in a Porsche
with an automatic shift;
drinking single-malt scotch
with ice cubes, or kissing
with your mouth closed;
or giving a blow-job
with only your teeth;
or a handjob with the tips
of two fingers
from a distance;
you shouldn't eat pussy
unless you mean it &
for that matter
shouldn't write
or paint
or compose
you had to--
like evacuating
your bowels.

It's easy enough
not to mean shit
& that's why
there's a whole lot of you

& the rest
of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014


T-Rex recorded it;
Marc Bolan wrote&sang it;
Harold turned me onto it,
circa 1971.
It was hot then;
it's hot now.

You can ask me
about this life
& I have an answer
to it
who Harold really is;
who Marc Bolan was;
what T-Rex was about
& what the title meant.

Aside from that--
fire away.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014


The 9/11 World Trade Center
theme park
for business
last week.
Thrills, chills
and death-defying skills
wrapped in our collective hearts
are there
for all
to frolic in
for 24 bucks a pop:
Disney does death.

You too can experience
a busted-up fire truck,
bicycles driven by ash,
a million shades of blue,
a wall full of faces
lonely for a date,
a Y beam, and X beam,
a sun beam,
you can meditate,
and, yes,
to visions
of your own
of course,
the choice
was chosen
by holocaust

On separate screens
you can experience
the adrenaline rush
of school kids
being hunted down
and shot,
lined up for years
for an aspirin,
or sleeping under
a freeway
near you--google maps
will do this for free.

before you take the kids home,
to that fattened blob of a town
in one of America's sturdy out lands
clutching a 32 ounce soda,
you can simulate a fall
from the 104 floor
through make believe smoke
and make believe fire
& flames,
grasping for arms,
or fingers,
or hair,
through the air,
lungs collapsing,
eyes going blind,
& splatter
into a stain
on the sidewalk below
as a camera snaps
and a picture
of nothing
is produced
that you carry back
to the other fat-calved
football fans
somewhere else.

The gift shop
is to your right.
Step lively.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014


There is not much
we can do,
but we do it
even though
most of it
is bad.

A purple hangover
in the brain
of a flea
trying to stay
a heartbeat away
from those monstrous
clapping hands.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014


from the bellybuttons
of dreams & the mouths
of minnows; it settles
between double features
in old Times Square porn theaters;
it's in the smile
of ticket takers
& the flashlights
of old matronly ushers;
it's in drums
of sludge & boxes
of organic apples.
We go to battle with it,
fear thick and greedy
sleeps inside our creases,
victorious or not,
in a worsen state.
It's in the oil
that covers our fingers
opening a can of tuna fish;
it's in the tears of onions
and the sad play of old radios;
it's in black&white&
in color; it's roadkill
and hospital mistakes.
How we think
we get away
is indeed
the mystery
& the myth.

and small;
and wide
while pleasure
in pockets
& thieves its way
to those
who expect

Be easy.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014


If I have to take a knee,
I will; or not get off
the stool between rounds;
instead of my manager,
I will throw in the towel;
I will raise my hands
& surrender;
I will admit
that it's stronger
than even me;
more experienced,
and inexhaustible.

I've held onto it
grimly, like rosary beads
in a death-grip;
misery was like
a religion,
a calling
for me.
It sounded
its trumpets
& danced
in a game
that was rigged
from the beginning.
how much energy
I burned fueling
my anger--I could have
knocked-out the suns
of every solar system
or not.
I carried it
like a rat
gnawing at
my pocket.

I did this
not for hours,
or days or months
or years,
but for decades.
What a waste
it's been--
like pissing
down your own leg:
nobody knows it--
except yourself.

I will leave death
little enough.
But no longer
will I be stingy
with myself:
all pleasures
that doesn't stink
of artificiality
will be courted.
I wish to punish
no one,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014


Seymour was a little old Jewish guy,
in his late seventies, a wisp
of a mustache, glasses, shirt & tie,
cheap shiny pants & beaten-up black
shoes lugging a battered carry-on &
some daisies waiting for his wife
who just ducked into a TD bank
outside the building I worked in.
I'd come out for a smoke
and was leaning against the scaffolding.
Sheepishly, he came over
with 75 cents in his outstretched
palm which he tried to still
the shaking--the job
had got him; the kids
had got him; and the Mrs.
did her number on him,
"Can I buy one from you,"
he said, with a thick
Brooklyn/Bronx Jew inflection.
"You can't buy one,
but here's one on me,"
I said and began to shake
a cigarette out of my pack.
"No, please, take the money,"
he replied.
"Take the smoke, will ya?
Keep the money,
it's O.K., just take it."
He reached into his pocket
putting the money back in
& a lighter back out,
lit it and sucked deeply,
letting out a rich plume
while looking over his shoulder.
"I'm Seymour," he said.
"Good to meet you, Seymour.
If I was you, I'd hide the fucking lighter."
He looked over his shoulder again.
"Good idea." He put the lighter
in his sock. "She gives me one
every three hours...a man shouldn't have
to live like that."
"Yeah, I said,
"there's worse things in this life
than a little lung cancer."
It took him three or four drags
to finish the smoke.
"Been married to that woman
for over fifty years. You might think..."
"Don't think, Seymour, that shit
gets us all."
His Mrs. came out and over.
She looked at me
like every mother
I ever met: a bad
I lit another cigarette
and blew the smoke
her way. Fuck her,
I was still

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I was in mortal terror
of my mother.
Each time I turned
the key
to get into my home
my fingers shook:
I didn't know
what awaited me,
or who she'd be.
She was quick
to anger,
fast with her hands,
and liked to slap
the shit out of us;
or riled up my father enough
so he would do it. He,
I later realized,
was afraid of her, too.

I looked
for consistency
in other people
& other lovers
& either left
before they did,
made sure they
would leave or
didn't love them enough
to care either way.
My fears I could control,
but usually failed,
their fears
never registered.
I was in the wrong
life. The only consistent thing
I found in humans
was its cruelty
to other humans
and I already
hated myself

The one constant I found
was writing,
but then something
needed to be stilled
(at least a little),
to do that.
The advertising was mostly
true: one was usually eighty-six proof
and the other usually did
what it was supposed to do--
fuck the hassle in getting it.
the writing
is enough.

Not too long ago
I bought one of those
Life Alert buttons
for my mom; I put it
in her coffin.
I told them to program
my number first. Should she
ever come back
to what we call "life"
I want to be
the first
to know.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014


My Cubano friend
got a pass
from the shelter
she lives in
to visit her son
for his birthday
& stay overnight.
She has to
get permission
to do those things.
He was about
to turn ten.
She was nervous
about seeing him
and more nervous
about seeing her mom.
Almost a year
had gone by.
She had asked me
a week ago if I could go
with her and after some reluctance
I said, "yes." I've never really
enjoyed meeting a woman's child
and even liked less meeting their folks.

I knew I didn't have to,
but felt stupid
not bringing a present
for the kid. She had told me
that out of his school
he'd been selected
to go to baseball camp
for the summer.
I thought it was good for him
to get out of the dirt&grime&concrete
of Neuva York & smell some grass
& sweet air for a month & bought him
a baseball mitt, hardball, & oil
to work the leather.

The kid's look
was less than welcoming
when he saw me standing
with his mom.
I can't blame him;
he's probably seen many men
standing with his mom,
none of them any good.
Her mom did her best
to hide her displeasure,
but failed.
I could fade an evening,
I thought, and walked
inside. There was a smell
of death there. Her mom
had cancer & couldn't hide
that either.

Still, she cooked chuletas
with red peppers&onions, rice&beans
& plantains, and once the awkwardness
was replaced with the symbols
of love, the air
lifted. Mother/daughter spoke
in a language I didn't know while
her son spoke to his mom in language
I did know.
I took the kid aside when the women talked
and gave him the present; his eyes widened
as only ten year old eyes can & I began
showing him how to loosen the leather by
messaging the oil into it, working and reworking
the give and finally putting the ball into its center,
tying a string tightly around the middle and putting it
under his mattress that night. He listened
as only ten year old ballplayers can.

Grandmothers & great grandmothers
are the guts of this nation,
of this world. It's been steadily
downhill for the past forty years.
Freud was right:
if we don't work out ours and societies neurosis,
the string will slowly unravel for the next
& the next & the next. The fabric
just gets weaker. Cycles
have consequences.

I peaked at my Cubano squeeze
while she talked with her mom,
both were animated, silent,
demonstrative, waving hands
& arms, shifting positions,
& crying all together, separately,
She knew I knew
about medical shit
and asked me over.
I listened
& talked some
& tried to be hopeful,
but realistic. The old lady
was not going to make it
far. I think she respected me
for not sugar coating
what she knew in her heart,
but daughters are another
It got late,
the kid went to bed,
but not before
hugging me
then burying his head
against his mother's flesh,
kissing her & his grandmother
& saying goodnight.
Alexis walked me out
and we had a few cigarettes
together & spoke.
She needed to get out
of the shelter
& take care
of her own. Enough
time had gone by, enough pain
had been administered, enough people
had been brutalized.
Easy enough
to say,
I know.
When you've been pimped
in some hotel room in Philly
since you turned fifteen,
it's a Herculean task,
but not impossible. No,
not impossible.

She returned to her family
for the night & I walked
the streets of Washington Heights
until I found the bus
to take me all the way downtown.
(Fuck the subways & I didn't give a damn
about time.)
I smoked a few more cigarettes
waiting for the bus amidst the bustle
of a Latino community. I felt
more at home there than I ever felt
on Park Avenue, the upper East or West side,
or most other places. I rested my head
against the glass
and just drifted
as the bus lazily
made its way to the Village.

There are a few people
you want to root for.
There are a few things
you want to think about,
and feel
for as long
as you need to--this being
one of them.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I've been listening
to their bullshit
it seems
all my life:
"I can do that, too,
only better";
"You think that's sompthin?
I got a book in here you won't believe,
& when I write it, it's gonna be sompthin,";
"That ain't good, I got sompthin really good,";
"I"m gonna paint
& when I do"...
"That's not a song,
I got a song"; or
"If I ran the company,
or the government, or
the world, then you'd
And the poor fuck
who's doing all
the listening
nods and agrees
that, yes,
they do have a book
or a painting
they just need to let
their inner beauty

But it never is
is it? It never
shows; it never
gets done.
They whine
& bitch
& bellyache
about the unfairness
of life;
about how they would
if they could but life
is conspiring
against them:
it's a kid,
or a job,
or a car
breaks down,
or a tooth
needs to come out,
their stock is down,
but the market is up,
their mothers
& fathers, sisters
& brothers ask
too much
& give
too little;
they're sick
or despairing,
or suiciding.
They're mis-
or mis-
They've taken
too much dope
or not enough.
Their time
is circumscribed
by circumstances.

I'm getting quite sick
of them. The truth is:
they're full of shit;
they're not talented;
they've taken no risks,
sacrificed nothing
to do anything difficult
except get the ear
of a lesser human.
And don't tell me
about women having kids,
or men sprouting their seed
to procreate them
that that's creativity--that's
a rigged game.
Fuck that.

Oh, Savage,
you might say,
who the fuck are you? You
just write these inane
little poems about stupid
little subjects which are
mostly about yourself
& think you're such a big deal.
I can do that, too.

Ya see? Ya see?
That's what I mean.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014